The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 11, Number 16 31 July 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 259th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We reflect on our local Worldwide Photo Walk experience before a staff report on the new Nikon D3000, the company's new entry-level dSLR. But entry-level these days only seems to refer to the price, as we explained to our fellow Photo Walkers. See what we mean.


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
P E N T A X

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P A N A S O N I C

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D A T A C O L O R

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Learn more at http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?dc3 and "Let the world debate your vision, not your color!"

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Feature: Photo Walk 2009 -- Let the Batteries Die

It's not my line, that headline. But wait! We're already getting way ahead of the story.

The official count was over 32,600 photographers shooting in over 900 cities all over the world on July 18. A Saturday, that is. The event? Scott Kelby's Second Annual Photo Walk (http://worldwidephotowalk.com) co-sponsored by Adobe.

Now what would prompt such a tribal gathering?

Prizes, of course. The whole thing was ostensibly a contest. You have a couple of hours to take a few pictures. Then you've got a week to pick two, work them over and enter them into the contest. One winner from each city competes for the grand prize, etc.

But as someone who has occasion to peek at (but not judge) the Picture of the Day entries in Imaging Resource's contest, we can confirm that awards of this type are arbitrary. You may have taken a technically transcendent image only to be undone by an uninspiring subject. Or vice versa. You may also hit both nails on the head only to find you're screwed. That happens, too. In the end, it's a matter of taste, you might say. Just not yours, as unpalatable as that may be.

BUT WAIT

Aggravating as that is, it detracted not one unsigned bit from the joy of standing before a pile of sand on the other side of a chain link fence that Saturday of the Photo Walk as the clouds floated overhead and your elbows creaked from holding your entire life savings in one big, black dSLR and the expensive lens attached to it.

What can you make of that? you wonder as you lift your finger from the Shutter button.

You might wonder about sneaking your lens through that fence. Or using a shallow enough depth of field to blur it into oblivion. It may cross your mind to use a polarizing filter to cut down on the glare of the sand and maybe emphasize the shadows from the clouds in the sand. Or just set EV to -1.0. You might consider framing the shot from ground level, even on your belly, and maybe including a bit of the sky by shooting portrait instead of landscape. You might notice that the sand is not all sand, but some evidence of human activity pollutes it, giving it what passes for character. You might consider shooting from the fence's point of view, at a 45 degree angle. Or above it, as a bird might see it. The idea that this dramatic composition should be rendered in black and white may strike you right there on the spot or two days later looking at the image on your monitor. Inspiration may even dictate that you step back, zoom to wide angle and take a shot of the rest of your group trying to figure out how to shoot this engaging if uninspired subject.

You might just let the batteries die.

It's that framing of the shot that will be yours, not the electrically powered moments, in which the photo is created. It takes some thought, a dash of dreaming, some slow motion of the mind, some stop action of the soul.

EAVESDROPPED TIPS

As we walked around, we chatted with one or another photographer in our group of 50. Jeff told us how he'd gone on a shoot the week before to Fort Winfield Scott, the old Civil War fort under the Golden Gate Bridge. He went with some friends and when they came back to his place, he popped their cards into his PlayStation so they could all see what they got on his HDTV.

What amazed them, he said, was how the very same scene could be rendered so differently by each of them. If there was ever a slam-dunk, home-run contest argument for photography as art, that would be it. You know, the vision thing.

As he told us this, we remembered that only a few days earlier, we'd discovered our local School of the Arts has no photography track. Film and Video, yes. Dance, yes. Creative Writing, yes. Instrumental Music, Piano, Theater, Theater Design, Vocal, sure thing. We held out some hope for the Visual major, but that turned to be sculpture, drawing, painting. The closest thing we found to a photography course was an elective in Computer Graphics that sounded like cruel and unusual punishment.

Chilling.

If you want to learn photography as an art, you have to hit the streets. And the Photo Walk is a nice way to not only hit the streets but learn a little bit about how to shoot like an artist.

Behind me I heard one photographer explain to another how he had defined a custom button on his dSLR to set his metering to spot mode and how he then uses his zoom lens to isolate a middle gray in the subject. He can then spot meter to get an exposure for that and zoom back out to compose the image. Shop talk at the old artesian well.

It was a convivial group of talented people who had never meet each other. But that didn't stop anyone. They were having fun admiring each other's gear and subject. We saw some great glass, some high tech tripods and rare ballheads, a flash or two, the latest cameras and even a classic or two. We ransacked a motorized cable car yard for images (with the caretaker's permission, of course) and blew down the deserted streets like litter trying to find something to stick to.

After two hours of this, we were all admitted into the Adobe temple to share some pizza and drinks and talk about Lightroom presets and camera profiles with Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty.

And, yes, as the afternoon slowly slipped away exchanging ideas and experiences, our batteries were all slowly dying. The only shutters that were snapping were in our minds as we flashed on new techniques, a recommendation or two, or something to download as easily as we grabbed a slice of pizza or a bottle of water.

THE DEAR DEPARTED PAST

But we were all only half done.

We'd captured our images but we hadn't gone over them, tweaked them, submitted them. As a policy, your editor doesn't compete with you in these things, but for the sake of the story, we went through the motions, failing only to actually enter any images.

The first thing we did was look over last year's winners. There are a few things that help an image stand out in a crowd of very good captures, we observed.

Probably the most compelling -- and, at the same time, most serendipitous -- is a particular moment or event. The first prize winner was one such. A regal bird was caught in full wingspan flying overhead, directly down a street of enchanting buildings that loomed on either side of the frame.

Geometry helps too. The symmetry of that image with buildings on each side of the portrait-oriented image helped enormously. And the optical distortion of the wide angle lens emphasized the freedom of the bird's flight as the walls of buildings encircled it.

Geometry and a complementary optical distortion help in their own right, of course. As does the simplicity of reducing an image to monotone to emphasize the richness of its tonality.

And of course there is nothing like having Venice or Sausalito, places oozing with drama and light, as a backdrop. Or little industrial scenes seemed to suffer an unfair disadvantage to the canals of Venice or the houseboats of Sausalito. Somehow romance always trumps overtime.

But you never know. There's no formula for all this even if there are a few factors to consider. And the more factors you keep in mind, the more your choices matter. Art thrives on choices. And luck doesn't hurt much either.

TWO IMAGES

We looked over our shots and picked two (because you can only enter two in the contest). The two we picked weren't particularly attractive but they both had some promise. We could think of a thing or two to try on them in Photoshop.

This being a text-only newsletter, we can't show you the images. But visit the site for our walk (http://worldwidephotowalk.com/san-francisco-adobe-ca-usa/) to see several images similar to those we're about to describe.

The first image we selected was of a residential complex several stories high with a windbreak of large glass panels between two blocks of apartments. We thought, at first glance, that the windbreak was reflecting the tower on the right, but it wasn't. The windbreak was transparent and was simply showing the rest of the building behind it. The illusion intrigued us on the spot, so we took a shot.

But back at the keyboard, there was nothing special about it until we opened the DNG file and tweaked the Vibrance. Why Vibrance? It's a smart Saturation command that controls the effect to minimize clipping at full saturation. It also protects skin tones from oversaturation, a big help if you've got people in the picture. The Saturation control itself adjusts colors equally (one might say indiscriminately) up to double their intensity. So Vibrance makes the most difference on the bleakest colors in your image, just what we wanted: brighten the color but leave the sky and foliage natural.

With Vibrance tweaked, the image was transformed. We noticed that each of the glass panels were not quite aligned to each other and therefore reflected a different view of the blue sky with its photogenic clouds. Some panels had a deep blue sky, some a purple cast, some an amber cast.

Suddenly it wasn't just the view that was speaking. It was the color, too. Our drab apartment exterior had turned into pictures at an exhibition, a wall of images that reflected just what the walk itself had been: similar scenes shot by different photographers.

The second image was a rusty chain held together by a beat-up Master Lock embracing a gap in a chain link fence that had seen better days. And what was it securing? Just some junk in the yard behind it. The sky on the other side of the fence was blue, too. But it's always bluer on the other side of the fence.

That amused us enough to frame it but the lock at wide angle was so small it was lost in the scene. So we moved in to shoot a closeup, distorting the lock with importance. That had the advantage of blurring the background nicely, too. Especially the clouds in the sky, which really seemed lifted from a vacation scene. The closeup view also made the detail on the beat up lock seem surprisingly eloquent.

But there was a red strip of plastic in the background that was just as red as it had been before it was blurred. And the ideal blue sky really distracted from the scratches and shine of the lock like a heckler at the back of the crowd.

The solution, in part, was to knock it down to monotone. We tried a black and white version, but there was too much detail in the image to be easily read in simple black and white. In the end, what worked best was a very selective use of color to highlight just the main subject but that color also had to be quite desaturated.

Lots of work, no? But that's part of the fun. It isn't just about walking around and getting lucky with your gear. It's about turning off the batteries and asking yourself how the image you see might be developed into what you can only imagine.

LESSON LEARNED

And that was the great lesson of the photo walk. As we walked around with our fellow photographers, one or two would apologize for their "entry-level camera" when we'd ask what they were shooting with. But what's entry-level about any dSLR these days? Just the price really. Same class, high enough resolution, great color, a responsive shutter. We really haven't seen an entry-level camera that can't take a great shot.

But taking a great shot is only half the battle. Which is no doubt why Adobe was a co-sponsor of this year's Photo Walk. We half suspect a nicely manipulated image may be the prize winner this year. Something beyond serendipity that reflects some thought, some choices. You know, the stuff that happens when the batteries are off.

It's not my line, that bit about batteries dying. It came from Frank McCourt's essay on writing (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/14/education/reflections-creative-writing-class-teacher-confront-30000-words-week-teenage.html). But if it's good enough for writers, it's good enough for photographers. We're all in the same boat.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon D3000 Preview

By MIKE TOMKINS and SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3000/D3000A.HTM on the Web site. See also the team's D300s preview at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D300S/D300SA.HTM on the site.)

Nikon's D40 dSLR was a consistently good performer for the company since its launch in November 2006, frequently found at or near the top of monthly sales charts, according to the company. It was also one of our favorites, with a simple interface and excellent low-light performance.

Now two and a half years old, the D40 is the second oldest model in the lineup, so it isn't surprising to see Nikon announce its replacement. The Nikon D3000 refreshes the D40 design with a new body and a combination of features previously seen in the D40x, D60 and D5000 models, plus a few that are entirely new.

The Nikon D3000 ships from late August, priced at $599.95.

LOOK & FEEL

The Nikon D3000's body has been redesigned, but its dimensions and weight are nearly identical. The width and depth are unchanged at 5.0 and 2.5 inches respectively, while the height has increased by just a tenth of an inch to 3.8 inches. The new body will be immediately familiar to D40 owners, as the D3000 keeps all of the controls in the same locations, although the exact shape of a few buttons has changed somewhat. The mode dial also has a new diamond-patterned knurling on its outer edges that should be easier to grip.

The rise on the grip side of the Nikon D3000 has been relaxed a bit, making a slightly shorter grip. Note also that the D3000 is now shipping with the 18-55mm VR lens, an upgrade from the D40's non-image-stabilized lens. Like most recent Nikon dSLRs, the D3000's cut is considerate of the left hand, with a slight rounding of the edge. This makes it just a little more comfortable to rest the D3000 in your left palm as your fingers reach out to adjust the zoom and focus rings.

Now with 13 modes on the Mode dial thanks to the addition of the Guide setting designed to simplify basic camera functions for the beginner, the Nikon D3000's controls are otherwise unchanged from the D40.

Though positions have changed a bit, the controls of the Nikon D3000 are identical to the D40. Given the recent reshuffling of controls on most of the higher-end dSLR lineup, it's good to see Nikon stick with a winning design. Most competing dSLRs at this size, namely the Rebel XS and XSi, have quite a few icons and buttons back here, which probably serve to confuse more novice photographers than they help.

The Nikon D3000 boasts a new 3.0-inch diagonal TFT LCD which is significantly larger than the 2.5-inch displays of the D40, D40x and D60. In fact, it's even a little larger than the 2.7-inch display of the Nikon D5000, although the D3000's LCD is fixed in place and so not quite as versatile as the D5000's tilt/swivel vari-angle display. All five cameras feature an identical display resolution of 230,000 dots. Nikon claims the D3000's on-screen interface offers a 20 percent increase in font size as compared to previous cameras.

SENSOR & PROCESSOR

On the inside, the most significant change since the D40 is that the Nikon D3000 now sports an EXPEED image processor that works in concert with a higher-resolution DX-format image sensor. The sensor size -- roughly equivalent to that of a frame of APS-C film -- is unchanged, but where the D40 had an effective sensor resolution of 6.1 megapixels, the D3000 now offers 10.2 megapixels. That's the same resolution as offered by the more expensive D60 and its now-retired sibling the D40x. As with both of those cameras, the total sensor resolution is 10.75 megapixels and the maximum image dimensions possible from the Nikon D3000 are 3872x2592 pixels. Two lower-resolution modes of 2896x1944 and 1936x1296 pixels are also available.

The combination of a new image sensor and image processor has also brought an increase in both speed and sensitivity for the D3000. Nikon's entry-level dSLR is now able to shoot images at three frames per second and offers ISO sensitivities from 100 to 1600 equivalents in 1.0 EV steps, with the ability to increase this to ISO 3200 equivalent using the Hi-1 setting. In both areas, this again matches the D40x and D60, although we should note that we don't currently have information on the number of frames which can be captured in a burst. Also new to the D3000 is the ability to shoot not only as JPEG or .NEF Raw image files, but also to simultaneously record each image in both formats. The Nikon D3000 records images on SD/SDHC cards.

Autofocusing is also significantly improved since the D40, with the Nikon D3000 sharing the same Multi-CAM 1000 phase-detection autofocus sensor module that is also used in the D5000 and D90. The Multi-CAM 1000 module offers 11 focusing points, of which the center point is a cross-type sensor. By way of comparison, the Nikon D40's Multi-CAM 530 module offered only three points, with a cross-type center point. The Nikon D5000 also adds Nikon's Scene Recognition System, 3D Tracking capability and an auto-area AF mode while retaining the D40's single-point and dynamic area AF modes. The Multi-CAM 1000 system integrates the AF sensor data with information from the 420-pixel RGB metering sensor (shown at right), allowing the system to better track objects moving through the scene. The Multi-CAM 1000 sensor's detection range is unchanged from that of the Multi-CAM 530 module.

DUST CONTROL

Another important change in the Nikon D3000 compared to the D40 is that it includes the company's three-pronged strategy for controlling dust on the image sensor. Nikon's Dust Reduction System uses vibration to shake dust off the low-pass filter, whereupon the mirror chamber design causes an air flow with each shutter release that carries dust to a capture receptacle. The final part of the approach requires the optional Nikon Capture NX 2 software and involves creation of a reference photo that is used to identify the location of stubborn dust specks. These can then be replaced by automatically interpolating data from areas of the image adjacent to the dust.

SHUTTER

Yet another change carried over from the D40x design relates to the D3000's x-sync speed of 1/200 second, down from the D40's 1/500 flash sync speed. The reason for this difference is that the D40 had a relatively slow mechanical shutter, but "gated" the CCD for its shortest shutter speeds. This meant that the CCD itself was actually exposed to incoming light for a longer period of time (perhaps 1/100 to 1/200 second), but the camera manipulated the chip's control voltages to only allow light collection for a much shorter period of time. This made it easy to produce very brief exposures without the expense of a really high-speed mechanical shutter and as a consequence also permitted very high x-sync speeds.

There's no such thing as a free lunch though and the downside was that large light overloads could cause streaking or smearing in the D40's images. The good news is that the D3000 won't suffer from these problems. But the x-sync speed is slower as a result. See our discussion of "Shutter Control vs. CCD Gating" in our D80 review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D80/D80A5.HTM#ccdgating) for more detail on this topic.

The new shutter mechanism included in the Nikon D3000 is rated at 100,000 cycles, just like the D5000 and D90, a first for a camera at this price range.

GUIDE MODE & MORE

The original D40 was one of the earliest cameras to address the needs of consumers stepping up to a dSLR for the first time, by offering a robust help system that functioned as a portable user guide of sorts, always available to refer to as needed. While many more experienced photographers likely never touch them, features like these can prove invaluable to the newcomers.

The Nikon D3000 takes the concept from the D40 and really builds on it by presenting a new Guide Mode position on the Mode dial. When placed in this mode, the Nikon D3000 will greet users with a friendly graphical interpretation of the menu system, with icons labeled Shoot, View/Delete and Set up. When in the Shoot menu, the photographer is asked a number of questions and the Nikon D3000 then offers guidance on what to set -- and importantly, why each suggestion is being made.

As with the D40, the Nikon D3000 offers a Retouch menu that let users tweak images to their tastes after capture. The Nikon D3000's Retouch menu offers several new functions, including some inherited from the D60, D90 and D5000. The Soft-filter effect smooths faces and other details in an image, while Color outline creates a monochrome image, eliminating all color and converting transition areas into a kind of pencil sketch appearance. The Miniature effect simulates an exaggeratedly narrow depth of field, allowing the user to select a horizontal position in the image which should look sharp and then progressively increasing image blurring above and below this position. The Nikon D3000 also includes the ability to process Raw files in-camera and retains Retouch functions such as trimming and color balance that were found in the D40.

One function from the D40 has evolved rather a long way in the last couple of years. Where the D40 offers a D-Lighting function which can act provide a fill flash-like effect after image capture through the Retouch menu, the Nikon D3000 supplements this with the company's Active D-Lighting function. Active D-Lighting debuted on the D3 and D300 and is applied to images at the time of capture. The Nikon D3000 allows Active D-Lighting to be enabled or disabled, but offers no manual control over the strength of the effect.

The Nikon D3000 also includes the Picture Control System previously seen in the D300, which allows control of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. Picture Control presets include Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape and each can be fine-tuned to the user's preferences. The Nikon D3000 has also inherited Nikon's Scene Recognition System, which improves upon the company's Matrix metering system. Also new since the D40 are a date imprint function that can overlay the current date and time on images and the 72-thumbnail playback mode first seen in the Nikon D5000.

ANALYSIS

Though we're sad to see the excellent Nikon D40 fade into history, Nikon has introduced what appears to be a good quality successor with the D3000. Indeed, the D3000 seems to be an amalgam of most of what was great about the D40 and D60 sprinkled with most of what's useful for consumers from the Nikon D5000 and D90. All four are easily described as excellent dSLRs, so we expect to be able to say the same about the Nikon D3000. Watch for sample images and a user report soon.

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Advanced Mode: Ingestion

Take that slowly. In-ges-tion. Not indigestion. Ingestion. Absorption without the pain. Swallowing.

It's the term Peter Krogh, author of The DAM Book (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596523572/?tag=theimagingres-20), uses to describe the act of copying images from the camera to the computer. You probably call it "copying" (as in, "Did you copy the new photos yet, munchkin?") without giving it another thought.

We've written a bit about this before, we confess. Our more involved piece described how to incorporate DNG Converter automatically into the ingestion process, something we have never regretted. But as we flipped through that part of Peter's book the other day, we had another thought.

What else could happen automatically when those camera images are transferred?

As Peter points out, a lot. Ask yourself what it is you do every time you copy images to your computer. That's the list. The trick is to figure out what exactly it takes to automate that. The more you can automate, the less you have to do. The more reliably the tasks are done, too. Not to mention faster.

In our case, we were already copying images to what Peter calls a landing place directory where they were subsequently processed by a small script that prompted us for a permanent folder name that starts with the current date and includes some slug identifying the shoot.

And it was already converting Raw files from our personal camera to DNG files. We prefer to have our Raws in an open, compact format that stores metadata in the file itself instead of a separate XMP sidecar file.

The DNG format is most appreciated for being an open Raw standard. So it will never be a mystery to anybody who wants to support it. But it has some compelling virtues for asset management, too, as Peter points out in the book. Not the least important is its ability to safely pack XML data with the file. But more about that another day.

Sometimes we actually don't want to make the conversion so we had skipped some file formats (like Canon Raw files). But what we really wanted was a simple prompt to ask us if we wanted to convert these proprietary formats (if the script ran into any). We didn't want a big page of options to click. Just a bright-eyed robot that, running into a NEF, would ask if we want that saved as a DNG. And if so, should the NEF be retained.

Well, that was easy enough to add. Just a change to the program's logic flow.

But what about adding copyright?

We do that all the time (or should). In fact, we set up the User Comment in our Nikon dSLRs (something not quite so easily done on a Canon) to tag each image with a basic copyright notice (something else we've told you about before). That's great as far as it goes -- and better than nothing. But the Exif header has a lot of other copyright tags that should be targeted. The User Comment doesn't quite do that.

An ingestion script can do that, though, just by tapping into Phil Harvey's ExifTool software.

So why hadn't we thought of that before? Because, well, because we were thinking that our copy should be, um, pristine! An unsullied match of what the camera captured. Undefiled. Virgin.

Virgins have their uses, but where's the volcano?

These images -- right out of the camera -- weren't really ready for archiving until they had at least our copyright information applied to them. So we added ExifTool to our script to populate those tags. Like DNG Converter, it works from the command line and can be fired off with a "do shell" command in many scripting languages.

And the DNG file, because it absorbs metadata itself rather than requiring a separate text file with the same root filename as the image, can have that data written to it just like a JPEG. Hurray!

We typically do one more thing to our images because our primary means of display is on the Web. That's how we share our family photos (haven't ordered double Jumbo prints since last century) and where many of our camera review galleries end up. Our other images (perhaps intended for framing) don't suffer from this either, although it isn't really relevant to them.

We rotate the portrait images to actually display as portrait images.

That sounds simple, but what most cameras do is write an orientation tag that rotates the captured data to the right orientation. Counterclockwise 90 degrees or clockwise 90 degrees. The data itself sits there in a landscape orientation of long rows and short columns no matter how you held the camera.

Most image editing software displays the image in the correct orientation because it's smart enough to read the Exif orientation tags (that's one tag no camera manufacturer has dared to make proprietary). But no Web browser gets that, so if you use a simple resizing utility that doesn't read the orientation tag (and few do), you'll get landscape portraits every time.

Consequently, we turn the portrait data into the correct orientation leaving only the thumbnail on its side. That in itself can be confusing, but if you do this routinely, you'll know what's up -- right side up, that is.

Why not put that into the ingester, too?

Well, we did. We simply automatically (and optionally) opened the venerable iView MediaPro (these days sold by Microsoft as Expression Media) with the new folder as the current catalog and selected all the portrait images that were not DNGs (one does not have to rotate DNG data).

Unfortunately, MediaPro isn't fully scriptable. We'd have to get into some user interface programming to finish the job, which wasn't worth missing diner over. So we just left it at that. We can scroll through the images for a look before giving the lossless JPEG rotate command (which takes a while for each image).

But those little enhancements to our ingestion script save us no little time and guarantee the job will always be done right. Priceless, as the ads say.

Every ingestion script is different, of course. You, no doubt, have other needs. Peter recommends Marc Rochkind's $40 ImageIngestorPro (http://imageingester.com) [MW], which about covers the spectrum. If you can't do it in ImageIngestorPro, just wait until the next version.

But there's no point putting off essential file modifications until the ingestion process is over. There's never going to be a better time and automating the task just makes it easier to, well, swallow.

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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read about SLRgear's test methodology at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=18

Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f773

Read about Sony/Konica Minolta lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=14

Donna asks about cameras that use AA batteries at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeacc08/0

Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b2

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RE: Adobe Installer Help

I have Adobe Photoshop CS4 with Adobe Camera Raw v5.0. Using Adobe Updater, I was able to update/install two of four programs. The two I cannot update are ACR v5.4 and Output Module Update. Both (ACR 79.0mb and OMU 1.7mb) download, but will not install. By a popup I am told to close both Bridge and CS4 and then retry. I close both programs and still cannot install these two programs/files. I call Adobe and they want $30 for any help they may provide. I've tried their online help with no response from them. Can you help or should I suck it up and see if Adobe can help? Or is there any other source of help that I may try?

-- David Adams

(We'll assume we're talking about Windows. The first thing we'd do is make sure we downloaded the correct updaters for our operating system (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4522). Note that two versions of Adobe Camera Raw have to be installed for Windows Vista 64-bit. The link has quite a bit of advice on installation, BTW. The ReadMe.pdf file details the manual installation procedure for any supported operating system. That would be the second thing we'd do. The third thing to try, if nothing above works, is to poke around the Adobe forums (http://forums.adobe.com/) for a similar issue. -- Editor)

Thanks for your help, Mike. Your third suggestion really helped. I found my answer there -- Adobe forums -- as someone else was having the same problem. (Jeff Schewe, author of Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS4, a book I have, gave the answer.)

The whole problem was that Bridge was running in the background in Startup. I went in there through Run>msconfig>startup (I think). Anyhow, I unchecked the Bridge box, rebooted and there was the Uploader program ready to go! ACR 5.4 went right in. I went back to Startup and rechecked Bridge. All works fine.

Now why couldn't Adobe say something about that hidden problem when they ask you to close Bridge in the Updater?

-- David Adams

(Oh, that's good company to be in -- Jeff Schewe. Bravo! -- Editor)

RE: Converter Lenses

I bought a supplementary lens on eBay for my Sony DSC-R1 camera specified as being suitable for my camera. It is marketed by Sakar International. I have to say compared with Sony's own lens it was pretty cheap at $60 odd from memory.

I received the lens and opened the package. It looked good with a nicely made set of adapter rings, the lens itself was in a drawstring bag with end caps on the lens and a well-made and finished steel barrel.

I fitted the adapter and then mounted it on the camera. It all went downhill from there. With the camera lens at max telephoto there was severe vignetting and the distortion was spectacular, a bit like the effect you get zooming with a long exposure.

I contacted Sakar. They were initially helpful, said must be problem lens and would send a replacement. They didn't and since then contact has been difficult. Letters went unanswered and phone calls were answered by non-English speakers. The lens claims to have a 10 year guarantee.

-- Keith Turner

(We're not familiar with either Sakar or the R1 converter lens they sell. We took a look at the image you enclosed and certainly do see the optical issues you pointed out. But that's not surprising to us (it resembles what we often see shooting through our scope). And it would explain why Sony charges so much more for converter lenses. Even then, we would expect to see some obvious chromatic aberration if not the vignetting. And they both (tele and wide-angle) add substantial weight to the camera. It's unfortunate the company did not offer you a refund, especially considering the marginal quality of the product, though. -- Editor)

RE: Shopping Online

Just a short one about buying from netshops.

We had a netshop in Sweden selling photo equipment at very good prices. Irritating to us in the open shops such as mine: Schonherrs foto.

For a couple of years they did well, consumers were happy, but then it happened. Just before Christmas last year they started to advertise Canon and Nikon and TV sets at prices far under our normal netprices.

"Pay in advance and we will send you the camera or TV set as soon as we have recieved the money" was the message.

Believe it or not, people sent them money in the thousands, not to say millions, but they never received any delivery.

Two of the businessmen are in court but the third went off to who-knows-where with all the money.

If you buy online you should be sure about the seriousness of the dealer and have some kind of guarantee about delivery before your money is blowing in the wind.

Customers may have learned something from this and I welcome them to my shop where they can first look at the product, talk to my employees, ask questions and be sure that the camera will follow them home after paying at the cashiers desk -- no paying in advance and no waiting for a package that may never be delivered.

Online is OK, but it has to be serious.

-- Lasse Jansson

(The attraction of buying online, if it isn't price, is convenience. In this particular corner of the world with a population of nearly seven million people, there is only one camera store worth visiting. We were amused to read Scott Kelby's story about flying to Italy to celebrate his birthday with a week's shooting only to discover he had mistakenly left all his photo gear behind. His solution was to visit a camera store in Firenze and buy a Nikon D5000. Imagine, if he'd been here, he wouldn't have been able to do that. Makes a passport look like required equipment these days <g>. Or, more conveniently, you could just use our Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) where buyers are screened and help support Imaging Resource. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Western Digital (http://www.wdc.com) has launched its Creative Masters Program, an educational program to share "the knowledge and experience of three world-class artists and emphasize the critical importance of safely storing priceless files and backing up," the company said. The site features the work of Bruce Dorn, Colin Finlay and Peter Read Miller (http://www.wdcreativemasters.com) as well as online tutorials.


In addition to its D300s and D3000 dSLR announcements mentioned in our hardware review above, Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) announced new versions of its $2,399.95 70-200mm f2.8 zoom and its $849.95 18-200mm VR II zoom. The 70-200mm now benefits from Nikon's Nano Crystal Coating while the 18-200mm gets a lock to minimize zoom creep.


The genteel and charming Bob Krist (http://www.bobkrist.com/blog) blogs about travel photography and a whole lot more. You may have last seen him with Joe McNally on Nikon's Creative Lighting DVD, reviewed here recently.


iCorrect has launched iCorrect Color Blog (http://www.icorrectcolor.com) to provide tutorials and helpful information on using the iCorrect family of color correction software.


Adobe Evangelist Julieane Kost has posted a 15-minute tutorial on using camera profiles in Lightroom and Camera Raw (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2009/07/using_dng_profiles_a_video_demo.html).


National Geographic magazine (http://www.nationalgeographic.com) is using HP Indigo digital printing (http://www.hp.com/go/indigo) to print customized photographic covers of a special collector's edition magazine called National Geographic Your Shot (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/your-shot/your-shot). Available now, the collector's edition publication features the best photographs from the more than 150,000 images submitted by the public to the popular Your Shot online feature. But the cover can be yours, featuring your own high-resolution photographic image.


Datacolor (http://www.datacolor.com) has released Spyder3Elite 3.1 and Spyder3Pro 3.1, a free update with improved ease of use and Integrated Luminance Control.


Unibind (http://www.unibind.com) has announced its $14.99 Unibind Smart Calendar kit for consumers to create personalized calendars at home with no additional equipment needed. The product includes calendar layout software, a wire-topped calendar with hanger, 15 sheets of photo paper, 13 adhesive end sheets and a sheet of stickers. It will be available in the fourth quarter, the company said.


LQGraphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released its Photo to Movie 4.2.5 [MW] with fixes for a few uncommon crashes, better support for NEF files, a fix for problems dragging titles and an updated media browser. Mac users are also encouraged to update to Mac OS X 10.5.7, which fixes bugs that can affect Photo to Movie.


Other World Computing (http://www.macsales.com) has announced lower prices on its Mercury Pro Blu-ray Quad Interface external drives and has introduced two new special Mac bundles that include the full $149.99 retail version of Toast 10 Titanium Pro. The $299.99 product includes a 6x Blu-ray drive while the $349.99 product features an 8x Blu-ray drive. Add $100 to include Toast.


AsukaBook (http://www.asukabook.com) has announced a new album, a new book size available in all lines and faster turnaround time on orders for professional photographers and designers looking to offer their clients high quality products and faster than ever service.


Luminescence of Nature Press (http://www.luminescentphoto.com) has published The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex Pro by Jason P. Odell, an ebook with 15 videos on digital black and white conversion using Nik Software's plug-in.

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One Liners

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Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

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Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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